FOIA March Madness 2018 - The Final Four

FOIA March Madness 2018 - The Final Four

Find out which agencies won their divisions as we head into the fiercest competition yet

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

Elsewhere in the world, Wildcats and Leprechauns left March as the Masters of Madness, but here at MuckRock, our FOIA-themed spin on the popular springtime showdown carries on to the Final Four, and what a four they are, folks. We’ve had many great competitors, and this round sees some more heartbreaking eliminations. Let’s take a look.


The b(1) bracket had two relatively low-key contenders, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review was able to slide by NOAA, despite the fact that neither of them have provided much more than an acknowledgement; it provided an acknowledgement a day ahead of the agency tasked with oceans and atmosphere, which also didn’t like the idea of providing materials about how the request would be tasked, an option we’d offered in the request as an alternative to actually going through each agency employee to get the records.


The National Park Service narrowly edged out the Department of Energy in the toughest call of the week. Though neither has completed the request yet, the NPS provided to us a rundown of its limitations and thoughtful suggestions for how to restrict the broad scope of the request on the day of submission; both, it should be noted, however, have been actively working with us, the requesters, to try to manage our arguably “burdensome” request for “talking points” across the agency.


In another tough call, the Securities and Exchange Commission, last year’s champ, beat out the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. FDIC’s Jerry has been quick to respond to our request and follow ups, and it may be that we’ll end up kicking ourselves for this call, because on March 27, the agency claimed that it had completed its records search; however, we haven’t seen those documents yet, nor do we have a sense for whether they cover the whole agency. Meanwhile, the SEC has been very communicative about where it stands in the process, and early on were able to tell us that there were over 214,000 emails through the agency that would be considered responsive to our request.


Finally, the Navy knocked out the Federal Communications Commission, which managed to make it this far due to the automatic response provided by the FOIA Online submission system.

Executive Office for Immigration Review now takes on the National Park Service and the SEC is set up against the Department of the Navy. What will be the final face-off in our currently not-scientific showdown to find the fastest FOIA office? Check back next week to find out.

FOIA Final Four

Image by Pete Souza via the Obama White House Archives